MESN questions Malawi voters roll

Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) has questioned the credibility of the tripartite elections’ Voters Roll, arguing the clean-up exercise was not thoroughly done.

MESN vice-chairperson, Emma Kaliya told the media in Blantyre there were several challenges that will have a direct bearing on the elections.

“The credibility of voters roll is still questionable with the clean-up exercise not being through and complete. The list of candidates for constituencies and wards are not thoroughly cleaned up with anomalies like two candidates in one ward, and names of candidates missing in some constituencies,” highlighted Kaliya.

Kaliya:  Voters roll wary
Kaliya: Voters roll wary

She also noted that the inadequate funding for the elections and civic education might affect the quality of the electoral process and civic education itself, adding the local government elections have been side-lined in the entire electoral process.

“Fatalities have already been reported, coming days before the official opening of the campaign period. This raises concerns about possibility of post-elections violence. Media coverage is too
executive-focused, with less attention to the local government elections,” she added.

MESN further noted that the playing is far from being level field especially with distribution of hand-outs, use of public resources, and the involvement of chiefs in politics creating a political environment that has failed in levelling the playing field.

It also bemoaned the minimal increase in number of female contestants with number of female Parliamentarian candidates highlighted to have gone down this time around comparing to the previous elections.

The issues concerning legal framework and late appointment of Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Commissioners, which delayed the release of electoral calendar, were some of the issues MESN highlighted as challenges to affect the outcome of the elections.

MEC  Justice Maxon Mbendera has since assured : “We are doing all we can to bring about an election that is credible, that is free and fair.”

The MEC invited both local and international poll observers to monitor the general election.

Some of the poll observers include the African Union, the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the SADC Parliamentary Forum, according to Mbendera.

“The diplomatic missions that are in Malawi are also invited to observe these elections,” he said.

Meanwhile, MESN is operating Election Information Centre through which citizen journalists will be able to participate in the coverage of the elections tomorrow. The centre is housed at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre.

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